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August 28, 2023

What To Do if Your Car is Written off

Getting involved in a car accident is a distressing experience, especially when your car is written off. In this article, we explain what it means when your car is declared a write-off, what you can do to prevent it and guide you through the process before and after this happens.

What it Means When Your Car is Written off

When your car is written off, it means it’s too expensive to repair compared to its current insured value. In simpler terms, one could say that the repair work of the car would cost more than what it’s worth.

So, instead of paying the cost to repair it, the insurance provider will offer you money based on the car’s value to help you replace it.

Preventing a Car Write-off

While you can’t always avoid accidents, taking certain precautions can reduce the chances of your car being written off.

Be a Defensive Driver

Stay alert on the road, drive carefully and keep to the speed limit. Driving defensively is the best way to avoid accidents.

Keep Your Car in Good Shape

Check your car regularly for any wear and tear issues and fix them promptly. This can prevent small problems from turning into costly ones. Also, make sure you get your car serviced regularly. 

Get Comprehensive Car Insurance

Having comprehensive car insurance is like having a safety net. It protects you financially in case of accidents, theft, and write-offs.

What to Do After Your Car is Written Off

Here are some guidelines for what you must do if your car is written off.

Collect Evidence and Lodge a Claim

Record the date, time and location of the accident. Also, take photos of the damages to both cars if possible. Don’t forget to write down the make, model, and licence plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the accident and collect the personal details of those involved along with any witnesses.

Contact your insurance company and submit an accident report to them as part of the claims process. They will guide you through the next steps. If the damage to your car makes it unsafe to drive, or the cost to fix it is more than the value of your car, your insurance provider may decide to write it off.

Provide the Necessary Documentation

If your car is written off, you’ll need to provide the insurer with your car’s NaTIS (National Administration Traffic Information System) document, which is your car’s registration papers.

If your car is still being financed, your car’s original NaTIS document will be with your finance company. However, if your car is paid off, you should have your car’s registration papers with you.

Some insurers may also ask for the car’s keys (including spares), purchase invoices, and service records. If you’re still paying off your car, then you’ll also need to provide a settlement letter indicating the amount you still owe to your financier. Remember to include the finance company’s name and account number. 

Review your Policy and Settlement Offer

Take some time to review your insurance policy to understand what’s covered and what’s not, especially when it comes to write-offs. The insurance company will make you a settlement offer based on the car’s value. Make sure you understand this offer and ask questions if you have any.

Once you agree to the settlement offer, the insurance company will pay the insured value of your car (minus excess) to cover any outstanding finance amount. The payout will depend on your insurance policy, the depreciation of the car, and any outstanding financing amounts.

What if You're Still Paying Off Your Car?

If your car is still being paid off when it’s written off, you must inform your finance company (like WesBank) of the situation. Technically, the car remains the property of the finance company until your insurance company settles the claim and pays the outstanding financing amount. The insurer will then take ownership of the written-off car.

If, after the insurer has settled the claim, you still owe money to your finance company, it’s important to settle the amount you owe immediately. If that’s not possible, it’s best to enter a payment arrangement with the finance company based on your budget.

Get Comprehensive Car Insurance

To protect yourself financially when your car is written off, you need comprehensive car insurance, which will cover any accidental damage, theft, hijacking, weather-related damage, and even damage to other cars if you’re responsible for an accident.

Remember, being involved in a car accident is stressful, but understanding what to do afterwards can help ease the stress if your car is a write-off. Stay informed and prepared for any unexpected events on the road, and remember to share safe driving tips with your loved ones.


This article provides general information on what to do if your car is written off in South Africa. However, different insurance companies may have slightly different processes or requirements.

Remember to always buy car insurance with much thought and only through a certified financial services provider.

Reach out to us today to learn more about getting affordable, comprehensive car insurance with fixed premiums* and a reduce-to-zero excess* amount. *T&Cs apply.